Local kind fine-dining grinds

Cover Story

May 22, 2022

Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

The local-centric fine-dining experience found at KALO: Hawaiian Food by Chai’s is the latest in a successful line of culinary concepts crafted by world-renowned chef and restaurateur chef Chai Chaowasaree, who saw a need for quality Hawaiian and locally inspired cuisine in Waikiki.

Located in the Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach at the location previously occupied by Spada, KALO: Hawaiian Food by Chai’s is the perfect spot for a relaxing meal with friends, or a special occasion destination to enjoy with family, including Father’s Day coming up on June 19.

Hawaiian Signature Sampler ($45)

“The concept is all about educating guests, especially our visitors who have never had true Hawaiian food before,” Chaowasaree says. “If they haven’t had poi, lomi salmon or laulau, it’s best to let them try a small portion and tell them about the history of the dish so they can understand and appreciate the dishes even more.”

Entrée selections available during dinner service (nightly from 4:30-10 p.m.) include the epic Hawaiian Signature Sampler ($45), which features pipikaula, kalua pork, ahi poke, chicken long rice, lomi salmon, poi and steamed rice. The Beef Short Rib Pipikaula ($26 a la carte) is available on the sampler and as a stand-alone dish, and remains a big hit with local diners and fans of traditional Hawaiian cuisine. The beef is marinated and hot-air dried for 12 hours to tenderize the beef before it is pan fried to perfection.

Kataifi and Macadamia Nut Crusted Jumbo Black Tiger Prawns with Fresh Pineapple Vinaigrette ($20)

“A bite of the pipikaula will hook you, and have you craving more!” Chaowasaree says.

Chaowasaree and his team have also introduced some signature dishes from the original restaurant for those who may be hesitant to try Hawaiian food offerings. Kataifi and Macadamia Nut Crusted Jumbo Black Tiger Prawns with Fresh Pineapple Vinaigrette ($20) is a popular mainstay, as are Miso Seabass with Lobster Reduction ($50) served with mashed potatoes and vegetables, and Chef Chai’s Signature Oxtail Soup with Lemongrass Galankal Broth ($39).

Manager Lawrence Pae slings drinks behind the bar.

The eatery also serves breakfast (daily from 7 to 10:30 a.m.) with local favorites including Loco Moco ($18) with hamburger steak, signature gravy and sunny side up eggs served atop a bed of steamed rice; and classics such as Thick Cut Hawaiian Sweet Bread French Toast ($20) served with poached pear and berries confit.

“I love good Hawaiian food, and I want guests to feel the true Hawaiian experience, not something you eat at a typical luau,” Chaowasaree says. “We are trying to elevate Hawaiian food and use only top-quality ingredients in a beautiful setting along with a complete wine list and craft cocktails. In a short time, we are already listed on website Thrillist as ‘The Most Exciting Restaurant in Honolulu Right Now.’”

As a special inside scoop, local diners craving a taste of KALO can stop in for a 20% kamaaina discount when mentioning Dining Out over the next few weeks. Please note that this incredible deal is not available on Father’s Day, and may not be combined with other offers or promotions.

400 Royal Hawaiian Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best